Yoga makes me a better parent

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For the past seven or so years when I’ve had an opportunity to work out I’ve gone for a run. Aside from the solid exercise and post-run high, running has been a great metaphor for life.

That “push-through-the-pain, show-up-and-get-it-done” mentality can be applied to just about any situation.

Except parenthood.

In parenthood you show up (everyday), but that doesn’t mean anything is going to get done. With toddlers and infants there is no pushing through the pain. You actively sit in the pain. There is lots of smiling through gritted teeth and swearing in your mind while you enthusiastically encourage them (for 30-minutes) to eat a cup of yogurt on their own…. and then watch as they wipe their yogurt-covered hands on the table, through their hair, and across the bottoms of their feet in one fluid motion.

Small children cry for inexplicable reasons. They love certain foods one day and act like they’re tainted with poison the next. When you don’t let them go outside on a 20-degree day or make them wear shoes on a splintery boardwalk you might as well be throwing their security blanket through a wood chipper in front of them.

I know, I know they’re growing at lightspeed and getting teeth and trying to make sense of the world around them and the emotions they’re feeling. But that knowledge doesn’t always make it easier at 9 p.m. when they refuse to go to sleep after getting up at 5:30 a.m.

Parenthood is a high-rep exercise in patience.

For so many years showing up and gutting-it-out worked well in whatever I did. Even if I absolutely dreaded the thought of doing something, the job would get done. There was a goal, a finish line.

In parenthood, sometimes the job doesn’t get done. And sometimes it gets done and you have to redo it. Twenty times. In a single day.

Parenthood has no finish line. It’s from the moment those two lines show up until, what I can make of it, all eternity.

And this is why I’ve found such an outlet in Power Yoga.

Power Yoga is based in Ashtanga but it moves more quickly. You lift and hold your entire body’s weight constantly, making it a great strength training exercise, but there are also poses you hold that are extremely difficult, whether due to a balance element or strength element, and breathing through some of these intense poses is what it’s like to remain calm and composed and breathe through inexplicable toddler tantrums, or 11 p.m., 1, 3, and 5 a.m. nighttime infant feedings.

And did I mention the room is heated to 90 degrees? Which to some sounds awful, but I Live. For. The. Heat.

Being able to step out of the house, by myself, and get in a solid workout, mentally and physically, makes me feel better and gives me a perspective shift when I need it most.

Running is an exercise but yoga is a practice. You start every class with an intention and carry that through. Usually at least once during class I will side step, or even fall, while trying a new pose but I hop back in the pose and keep going.

In running success is measured by completion. You finish the run, you get a PR.

In yoga—and parenthood—success isn’t measured in outcomes, it’s measured by how you handle the situation.

 

 

Storytime Pioneers

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After being waitlisted twice we got a call this past Saturday morning from the local library to let us know we had made it in to Storytime. A spot had opened up in the “Tales for Twos” Tuesday at 10:15 a.m. session.

Score.

We were out of town this past weekend and yesterday was a Monday of all Mondays, so it wasn’t until 10 p.m. last night that it dawned on me that the first Storytime of this session falls on Halloween week.

When we lived in Centerville, kids would wear their Halloween costumes to Storytime.

I had no idea whether or not they did that in Hudson.

I sent an email to the library at 10 p.m. hoping someone might answer off hours. Unfortunately, for me, the library doesn’t follow the same rules as corporate America and the email went unanswered throughout the night and early morning.

I didn’t want the kids to miss out if they were the only ones not dressed up and I also didn’t want to be the only mom who brought her kids to Storytime in full costume.

I opted to embrace the Halloween spirit and dress them up. We wheeled up to the library parking lot and I immediately saw one mom carrying her two-year-old daughter into the library wearing normal clothes.

Oh boy.

I went through the extreme work-out that is putting an independent 11-month-old into a chest carrier and having a two-year-old hold your hand while marching through a parking lot and juggling a diaper bag.

Was there a sign-in for Storytime here? Name tags? What room was it held in?

I talked to a children’s librarian to find out and I simultaneously scanned the room to costume check. It didn’t take long for me to notice that none of the other kids were dressed up.

Not a one.

There was one little girl who had a pumpkin cape on over normal clothes, but it was soon removed, whether by her or her mother, I didn’t see.

So, we funneled into the Storytime room with the twenty-or-so other kids and moms and grandparents and Garrett and Laine and I settled onto the carpet (meaning, all of our belongings got thrown into a giant pile beside us and I continuously pulled Laine back to our undesignated area while Garrett insisted on standing up).

There was singing and a book about pumpkins and shaky eggs and bubbles and Garrett and Laine had a lot of fun.

I was initially going to write despite being dressed up as Lightening McQueen and Batgirl, Garrett and Laine had a lot of fun.

But really, because they were dressed up as Lightening McQueen and Batgirl, I think they had even more fun.

To be honest, Laine is still too young to care, but Garrett loves his Lightening McQueen outfit and another little boy came up to him and thought it was the coolest and Garrett was so proud.

They are only little once and I know the magic that comes with being little and the holidays is limited. I see now that it shouldn’t have mattered to me if they were the only ones dressed up or not.

It doesn’t matter what other people think, what matters is if the kids are happy.

What matters is if the kids are having fun.

Welcome to the neighborhood

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We were in our last house just over three years. Not a long time by any means but long enough to see other families come and go.

The neighborhood we lived in was a mixture of empty nesters and young families—homes turning over as older couples helped their grown children move out and younger couples welcomed babies of their own.

Only after moving to Hudson have I realized how differently I wish I had welcomed new neighbors.

When we lived in Centerville and new neighbors arrived, I assumed they were moving from within the area (like we had) or had moved because they had family nearby. I figured they already had connections and knew where the good pizza places were.

We’d introduce ourselves to new neighbors when we bumped into them on a walk or while the kids were outside playing. We’d make small talk and tell them welcome to the neighborhood.

Being on the other side of this situation has flipped my perspective and changed how I will greet new neighbors in the future.

We moved to Hudson at the end of July and by the end of August we had yet to meet any young families. I was feeling particularly sorry for myself one morning, thinking about all the good friends we’d left behind, and as the kids and I left for a walk I said a quick prayer for more opportunities to feel connected to this area.

About ten minutes into our walk I saw two moms in a backyard with a playset. A cozy coupe sat on the driveway and toddlers ran around.

Well, this is it,” I thought. A big, “Here ya go. Here are some young families. Quit feeling sorry for yourself,” sign.

But the moms couldn’t see me from the street, so in order to meet them, I’d have to go up and introduce ourselves.

I know most of the time golden tickets don’t just fall into laps. You have to meet those chance moments and prayer requests halfway. So, with a racing heart and sweaty palms, I turned the stroller up a stranger’s driveway and marched to the top with the kids.

“Hello!,” I called out. They said hi, smiled, and walked over. “We just moved in and I thought I’d introduce ourselves.”

They were nice and have kids around the same ages as Garrett and Laine. We made small talk and when my kids started to get antsy in the stroller I knew it was time for us to keep moving. They both told me welcome to the neighborhood and we said goodbye.

As I walked away I was wishing they had given me their phone numbers or asked me for mine. I had already rolled up into their yard and crashed their playdate, I wasn’t about to ask for their numbers too.

Desperate new neighbor here! We know NO ONE within a two-hour radius. Give me your phone numbers. Let’s be best friends.

 So, the kids and I kept walking with no way to get in touch with these people, aside from showing up at their doorstep uninvited (again).

That was a month and a half ago. I haven’t seen either of those ladies or their kids since.

We’ve been pushing forward and grabbing hold of new opportunities and meeting other young families, but it is a continual effort of putting ourselves out there. Despite the challenge of starting over in a new community with young kids, I am grateful for the shift in perspective this move has provided.

The house next door to us has been for sale since we’ve moved in and I’ve been praying that a nice, young family will move in. (And that they will have kids the same ages as Garrett and Laine, will love sports, enjoy a strong drink, not be offended by the occasional swear word, and know how to play euchre like good Midwesterners. Bonus points if one of their families has a lake or beach house they like to invite new friends to. Speak it into existence). 

While I don’t know who will move into that house, I do know whenever they show up I’m not going to wait to bump into them to say hello. I’m going to walk over and ring their doorbell, take them some banana bread or cookies, leave my name and phone number on a post-it, and only then will I say welcome to the neighborhood.

Starting Over

It’s been well over a year since I’ve posted to this page and there seems to be plenty of reasons I can think of as to why:

  • Had a baby
  • Learned how to deal with a newborn and a 1-year-old
  • Went back to work
  • Learned how to deal with an infant and 1-year-old while working
  • Decided we’d be moving
  • Listed our house
  • Went house hunting 3.5 hours away (a bunchhhh of times)
  • Sold our house
  • Went under contract for one house. That fell through (looking at you, black mold)
  • Bought a different house
  • Said a lot of Good Byes
  • Moved
  • Still learning how to start over in a new city with a 10-month-old and 2-year-old while maintaining relationships with previous clients

Throughout all of it I’ve thought about writing here again. But I continually questioned myself. Why? What’s the point? Who’s going to read it? Why should they read it?

I’m not baking cakes or training for a marathon. I’m not feeding my family a diet of things grown only in our garden (we don’t have one) or traveling the world with two kids under two (coming soon to theaters near you, TBD if the MA rating is derived from comedic or horror elements, but strong language is definitely a factor).

I don’t have a cute theme to fall back on so I’ve thought whatever I end up writing here will simply be one more thought in a broken world that is already filled with so many.

Despite these seeds of doubt, I continue to feel pulled to writing here.

So I’m going to follow that. And maybe a bigger purpose will present itself, or maybe it’s just so I can process the world we live in with an audience of myself, my mom, and some spam bots (Hi, Mom!).

Regardless, I’m choosing to trust that you don’t always have to have an end goal to start something. You don’t have to see the whole picture to begin, and if you continually feel pulled to do something, follow that feeling, and don’t be afraid to start over.

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Moving has been filled with finding new spots for everything–groceries, parks, and even pumpkins!

 

There are no badges in motherhood

IMG_4900Growing up, there was a brief winter or two in my elementary years where I thought I was a brilliant figure skater—and had no shortage of self-confidence. I lived for the red and white badges that were handed out at the completion of each level. The cold air in the rink stung my throat and burned my eyes but it was all worth it. Because I could do a T-stop, I had survived Level 1, and I had a badge to prove it.

I also was an elementary Girl Scout from Brownies right on through to fifth grade. The colorful triangle-shaped badges that were awarded for new skills and adventures were presented with such ceremony. The rainbows, and deer, and nature paths, and sunshine symbols all demonstrated that I was learning how to navigate the world.  Looking back now, I can see my mom’s veiled smile showing her pride when I brought home a new badge while also hiding her dread at the thought of having another thing to sew on a vest.

I can’t blame my mom that a lot of the badges didn’t make it onto my puce-colored vest. Seriously… who has time for that?

I honestly couldn’t even tell you where that vest is now… likely pitched while cleaning out a childhood closet.

However, the badges from figure skating and girl scouts and other childhood activities that didn’t make it onto the vest, the ones that were placed in a gallon freezer bag with the best intentions of eventually making it onto a vest, those are still with me today.

As I’ve become a mom I’ve noticed that mothers often appear to be in competition. Not necessarily with one another, but in the sense that they want to make sure they’re doing it “right”. And I’m not sure why a mentality or expectation of being rewarded for actions or tasks that are assumed validating resurfaces when women become mothers.

  • No coffee or deli meat during pregnancy – you get a badge.
  • Natural childbirth – you get a badge.
  • Breastfeeding for a full year… at minimum – you get a badge.
  • No pacifiers – you get a badge.
  • No processed foods and baby-led weaning – you get a badge.
  • Potty-trained by the age of 2 – you get a badge.
  • Homeschooling kids – you get a badge.

What???

Let’s be real here.

Motherhood is the ultimate test of skills and survival.

And the thing is, there isn’t just one right way to do it. There is no guidebook you can follow to cross off steps as they are completed to earn a badge.

Everyone’s situation, family, and children are different and what works for one mom and family, might not work for another.

I think that, often, it is the moms who have the best intentions–the ones who take the time to be with their children and miss “checking off” an imagined list of boxes–who are doing it right.

Sure, your kid might have had caffeine while in utero, and you might have gotten an epidural or a c-section, and some nights everyone might be eating Lunchables for dinner–but that doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.

If you feel like you are doing what is best for you and your kids, then that is all that matters.

Everything else can just be put in a bag and set aside until later.